Local website designers give ‘Dr Google’ a nudge

Marcus Dawe, left, and Mathew McGann… “We want to expose the innovations that can really improve people’s lives and give them the information they need to make good health decisions.” Photo by Kathryn Vukovljak

THE days of typing your health condition into Google may be over with the creation of Health Horizon, a free website that keeps consumers and clinicians up-to-date on health innovations around the world.

“You might see a small news story about the discovery of a new chemical that has good results for Parkinson’s patients and they have to say something like, ‘this might be available in 10 years’ time’ – and then it disappears into the ether,” says co-founder Mathew McGann.

“That’s what we want to solve. People hear about these things and actually want to know if it succeeds or how it goes, or go on a trial, or even to invest or well-wish the innovators to let them know they’ve got a following.”

Co-founder Marcus Dawe says the Health Horizon platform is a bit like Allhomes, a place you can go to see all things related to health innovations.

“It’s a showcase of all the different innovations right across the health sector, nationally and internationally,” he says.

“We’re not focused just on medicines or devices, it’s everything and it’s born global although we’re operating from Canberra.

“We look around the world, monitor the places where innovations happen, universities, hospitals, health-related media and find innovations through data collection, check to make sure they’re valid, and that there’s a public interest.

“We want to expose the innovations that can really improve people’s lives and give them the information they need to make good health decisions.”

Mathew and Marcus say they connected through the innovations network locally about five years ago when they started working on the Health Horizon platform and through Marcus’ work in the health field.

Mathew says he was completing his PhD in physics and when they met they started talking about the inkling of the problem they wanted to solve – that innovators were coming up with new ideas that couldn’t readily be seen by the people who needed them or could help them progress.

Mathew says that Health Horizon has hundreds of thousands of data points that it monitors so they can track how the innovations are progressing and how real it’s becoming – but the kicker is that it’s available for anyone to access.

“We believe we cover what’s missing in all the other attempts in improving collaboration online, by bringing consumers in and making the website aimed at their level you capture everyone above that level,” he says.

“We’re giving all innovators the opportunity to link with what they need – whether it’s money, collaborators, trial participants, or consumers to do surveys on.”

Marcus says that on the public site there are about 1500 innovations, but their data set is watching around 200,000.

“All the information about progress out there is available on the internet but it’s not structured – it’s a news article here, a patent registration here, a trial test in a database there,” says Mathew.

“We then convert it into an event on a timeline that also points to resources, such as it made FDA approval and you can click the report. We don’t invent new information, we collect trustworthy reports around them.”

Marcus says Health Horizon is about understanding what your options are.

“It’s time we had a credible place we can go to find out, not just what your doctor is telling you right now but what’s coming up in the future.”


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